Not quite

In the last blog post, I shared an image of fine detail parts. I made those from thin strips of matte Mylar film. There were a few good guesses among the comments, but no one was correct.

I was making these to use as the stamped stake pocket details found on many composite gondolas.

Corner view of a Lackawanna mill gondola. William B. Berry, Jr. image, NPS Steamtown collection X4573, Railfan.net ‘erielack’ E-Mail List Photo Archive

It’s a small detail but they are a noticeable piece of hardware. You can see a few on the Lackawanna mill gondola image above. I had formed a couple dozen pieces by pressing thin strips of matte Mylar in a styrene jig to get the shape. The inside of the stake pocket is formed around a styrene 4×4.

Installation did not progress as I had hoped. A main issue is the tiny size of the parts. I’ve used Mylar for other detail parts, but I was able to over-fold at the critical bends. I was unable to do this with the stamped stake pockets. I can’t square up the folds.

A gondola model with the Mylar stake pockets installed. The jig for pressing the shapes is in the upper right area.

I installed several parts on one side of a gondola model with limited success. The Mylar also retains a springy characteristic. If the parts aren’t folded just right, then one leg will lift away from the model. I even held the ears in place three to four minutes so the canopy cement would set, but the inevitable would happen.

I also tried attaching them with Loctite 496 adhesive. Bill Welch had recommended this product for gluing metal parts to resin. IIRC, it’s a CA with some rubber and flexing qualities. It worked okay, but the slightest nudge or bump would knock the stake pocket free.

The other side of the gondola model has the styrene channel pieces installed. Another gondola in the background awaits the results of the stake pocket detail experiment.

I used Evergreen styrene channel (part #261) to represent the stake pockets on the other side of the model. The channel is as tall as a 4×4 and just a bit wider. Sadly, a 4×4 doesn’t fit inside the channel. I wanted to add 4×4 load stakes (or portions of them) on some of these stake pockets. I formed the Mylar parts around a 4×4 so that could have worked.

To recap, I have used thin strips of Mylar for other detail parts. Those had one or two simple folds separated by some distance on the Mylar strip. The four folds on these stake pockets are too tightly spaced on such a small detail part. Possibly an etched metal part could be developed for these details, but it will have to wait for another composite gondola kit.

Not everything we try ends up as a success, but we learn and move along to the next challenge.


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11 thoughts on “Not quite”

  1. K&S Metals used to have small packages of what they called shim brass, small sheets of various thicknesses, seemed like they range from .005 to tissue paper thin; I’d expect one of those thicknesses could be stamped like the mylar and be sturdy enough to last. The question would be what to glue it on with.

  2. Eric,

    Perhaps all is not lost. It may not work, but overfolding and holding flat with pressure for a week or more might give the mylar the “set” that you need for this application. Another technique would be to use an iron on low heat with a pressing cloth to set the bend as you would “press” the crease on your suit pants. Just make sure you don’t apply the iron directly unless you want to buy a new one for its intended purpose.

  3. Hi Eric,
    Maybe form the pockets around a scale 4×4 using very thin brass stock. At least that material will stand a nudge better. I’m sure you will find the solution!

    John Albaneze in frozen Streetsboro, OH

  4. Did you try using brass shim stock? It will hold its shape after bending and with care, you could impress bolt heads or use NBWs.

  5. Perhaps I should have spoken up, Eric, because I thought that what you were making was stake pockets but wondered about your choice of material and what you would do to represent the bolts by which they were attached to the car sides. Given how “springy” mylar is I suspect the styrene strip worked better for you but is there not a thin enough brass strip that such pockets could be stamped from in a homemade jig? Would this not provide a better solution?

    Cordially, Don Valentine

  6. I have used paper for such items (running board supports, etc). Good quality paper can be had in thicknesses of .004 and thinner, folds neatly, glues well with CA, etc. I’ve also stiffened the folded paper with a coating of CA. I don’t recall what I’ve used but I bet origami paper would work well.

  7. I’m in the same boat, Eric. Red Caboose used to make the parts you’re fabricating in styrene, but they’re long OOP. I needed a couple dozen for my Chad Boas NKP gondola, and resorted to using Tichy’s stake pockets. They’re too large, but will work.

    I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do for the over 200 pieces I need for my YC&F NKP wood gons, which are otherwise done. Likely, I’ll go the Evergreen U channel route, although I’ll play with forming shim brass first.

  8. Over here (in England) things such as toothpaste, ointments, tomato paste/puree come in tubes made from some soft metal. Cleaned up it will cut easily with a craft knife into strips which can be formed in your jig. It will easily take an impression for a rivet head.
    Better than brass shim as it has no spring – and it’s free.
    I’ve used this successfully in HO and larger scales. Hope this helps.
    PS Enjoy your blog – always interesting

  9. another option from Greg Martin’s list of ideas: use that nice heavy aluminum foil used in store bought pie plates, grocery store roasting pans, etc. easy to cut with scissors; holds its shape; fairly tough in a rectangular configuration like a handle, easily bent back into shape if bent.

    1. I’ll have to check that out. I also like the aluminum pie plate idea Rob posted. I’ll round up some materials and see how they work. Thanks for the suggestion, Dick! – Eric

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